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Montevideo, August 20th 2022 - 00:13 UTC



State of exemption declared in Ecuador to fight crime

Wednesday, October 20th 2021 - 09:30 UTC
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Blinken guaranteed Lasso would maintain democratic principles Blinken guaranteed Lasso would maintain democratic principles

Ecuador's President Guillermo Lasso Monday declared a state of exception for 60 days to set in place military checkpoints to stop criminal activity linked to drug consumption and trafficking.

Lasso's decision is said to be in response to an increase in the homicide rate throughout the country and other criminal acts related to the seizure of illegal drugs, which have reached about 147 tons so far this year, according to the police.

“In the streets of Ecuador there is only one enemy: drug trafficking,” Lasso said during a televised speech. “When drug trafficking grows, hitmen and homicides also increase,” he stressed.

Lasso acknowledged over 70% of the violent deaths occurred in the Guayas province, where Guayaquil is located. “Our military and police forces will be felt strongly in the streets,” he added.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is on an official visit to Ecuador, Tuesday commended Lasso for his decision and assured the Ecuadorian leader would maintain the “democratic principles” in the country during the state of emergency.

Blinken met Tuesday with Lasso and Ecuador's Foreign Minister Mauricio Montalvo in Quito to discuss the strengthening of democracy in the region, together with bilateral opportunities for trade and investment, in addition to the climate crisis, as well as human rights issues including irregular migration among other issues.

The meeting also focused on regional security challenges, particularly crime and drug trafficking violence. In this regard, Blinken recalled Washington already has open lines of cooperation with Quito on the matter, but offered additional technological and logistical support.

“In democracies, there are times when measures must be taken in exceptional circumstances to deal with emergencies,” Blinken said. He also praised Lasso's “strong voice for democracy” and congratulated the Ecuadorian head of state for his managing of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also on the agenda were trade and investment, although no particular progress was made other than the opening of negotiations towards an open skies agreement.

Blinken also addressed Ecuador's relationship with China and hoped Washington would not be affected by it. Montalvo pointed out he was interested in an agreement with China as it is one of the main economies in the world, but Ecuador's main trading partner remained the United States.

Blinken also referred to the extradition of Alex Saab, alleged frontman of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, to the United States to face money laundering and bribery charges. The Secretary of State defended the “independent judiciary” of the United States and pointed out the Saab case had been going on for a decade. Blinken thus regretted Maduro's decision to withdraw from the ongoing dialogue with the opposition in Mexico.

Categories: Politics, Latin America.

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